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#1 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello there, I am a HS'ing mama currently living in NY, but my family is considering a move to Pa (economical reasons). I would love to hear from some hs'ing mamas in PA about thier experiences withtheir districts. Also, we are non-vaxing, so I would love to know if any mamas out there in PA have a hard time with their district. I have checked the regs from HSLDA, but it's always nice to hear from someone first hand. I would greatly appreciate anyone responding to me, this is sucha tough decision to move. Home schooling is really the center of our family life, so it's the first and foremost factor when searching for a new place to live.

Thank you all,
Dominique
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#2 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 02:43 PM
 
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I've heard that some people consider PA's laws to be the hardest for homeschoolers. But, we have never had a problem to date. I'm in the Tuscarora School district and we've been through 3 superintendents since I started.

I do get extremely nervous when portfolio time comes around, though. Especially with a teenager!

What part of PA are you considering? And did you read the law yet?
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#3 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your reply...
Well, I was thinking about Monroe County, maybe Pocono or the surrounding are. I'm mostly concerned about the non-vaxing.... Do you have to supply the medical records at the start of every year?? Also, how much do you include inthe portfolio?? Yes, NY, PA , MA, and VT are highly regulated. How long have you been HS'ing??
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#4 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 06:18 PM
 
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From what I understand of the law, you can just submit your exemption to vaccines with your affadavit to the school district. In PA you are allowed to be exempt from vaccines on medical or religious grounds, but the religious exemption includes being morally oppsed to vaccines and you don't have to state why. But even if you did vax, you don't have to submt those records to the district, just state that the medical records are up-to-date and "on file".
My oldest is not of reporting age yet (age 8 by the beginning of the school year in PA) so I don't have first hand experience. Try the PA Unschoolers Yahoo group. They are a wealth of info on the law, even if you aren't an unschooler. Also you may have to read the law a lot to really understand it. it sounds much more confusing than it actually is.
By the way, I'm in PA between Philly and Wilmington, DE.
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#5 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 09:08 PM
 
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Keep in mind that NJ requires nothing from homeschoolers, just in case that is an option.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#6 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, Thank you all for your replies.

I had thought of NJ, but can't really find RE as affordable as in PA, my DH needs to be near the larger cities for work, so I can't go too rural.

I will look into that Unschoolers group, I feel like I need all the resources I can get to make the right decision.

Thank you all again!
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#7 of 19 Old 10-04-2007, 11:53 PM
 
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I have a friend hs'ing in NY - and frankly, NY's requirements seem much more stringent to me than here in PA. For example, she's required to submit a very, very, very, quite unbelievably detailed plan of what she's going to cover during the school year. Here, we only have to say things like "Language Arts - continue to progress through reading, writing, spelling" and similarly vague things.

I haven't reported yet (kids too young), but have lots of hs'ing friends/family who have - and I've never heard of anyone having any issues.

Of course, I'm in Lanc. Co. and hs'ers abound around here so the school districts are very hs'ing friendly.

I've heard too that PA is one of the toughest states to hs in - but I think that's a holdover from before the Homeschooling Law Rendell passed. (Back when there was no law, PA had the highest prosecution rate for hs'ers.) Because if you review HLSDA's court case info, PA really doesn't have all that many at all.

And honestly, I appreciate the law because it details what the school districts can and can't ask for, as well as making sure that these things are only collected and not used as a judgement against a parent for not accomplishing "enough" or the "right" things. You don't have that security in a state that doesn't have any law at all.
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#8 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 01:36 AM
 
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I only officially homeschooled for one year, also in South Central PA (where, as was mentioned, there are LOADS of homeschoolers... though, good luck if you're not Christian ). The best thing about PA homeschooling laws is that kids are only required to be in school from age 8 (by 1 September-- if your child's birthday is in Sept or later, your child will be nearly nine before you need to report) through... eleventh grade, I think. The laws really are draconian, but they are very easy to circumvent. One thing to remember, for your sake and for everyone else, is to never provide more information to the district than legally required.

Course objectives can be remarkably vague, e.g. "Explore mathematical concepts, improve skills." The time requirement is an easy one-- for elementary it's 900 hours *OR* 180 days. Most people find it easier to count days at that level, but I counted hours and we were finished entirely by February. You needn't keep detailed records of this, either-- I've heard of people just putting a checkmark on a calendar each day that they do school. A portfolio need only demonstrate that work is happening, though most evaluators will want to see progress-- every time you go somewhere, put the tickets in a box. When your child completes a project, take a picture and put *it* in a box. If your evaluator is the sort who wants to see progress, get something from early in the year, something from the middle and something from the end (date everything). Try to find an unschool-friendly evaluator, even if you're not planning to unschool-- they tend to be more knowledgeable about the laws and the work-arounds. Oh, and remember that your child never needs to be in the grades with mandatory testing, if you don't want him to be tested. You declare the grade level at the beginning of the school year; An awful lot of PA homeschoolers are never third, fifth, eighth, or eleventh graders.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#9 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 07:50 AM
 
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An awful lot of PA homeschoolers are never third, fifth, eighth, or eleventh graders.
That is clever! With homeschoolers grades don't really matter anyway. For example: Rynna what grade is your son in? :

We're looking at moving to Lancaster ourselves. We've been there on vacation a few times and loved it. Besides, the RE is reasonable and there are a lot of engineering positions posted for the area. Nice to know that there is a good homeschooling community there!
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#10 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 08:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
The best thing about PA homeschooling laws is that kids are only required to be in school from age 8 (by 1 September-- if your child's birthday is in Sept or later, your child will be nearly nine before you need to report) through... eleventh grade, I think.
PA requires children to be in school until the age of 17 - at which time they can sign themselves out without a parent's permission. They can be signed out before that, but the parent must sign off.

That's for schools, and I believe it's the same for homeschooling. I do know that homeschoolers here in PA are required to report until graduation, once they start reporting on a child.

I hadn't heard about the grade level thing.... I'm going to check into that! I will have to report on DD for the first time next year, and she would be in 3rd grade (if she were in a school). We're unschoolers, and I abhor testing, so it would be nice to get around that.

Though, what do evaluators/districts say if the grades jump around or some are skipped? Like, if I say she's 2nd grade next year, then 4th grade the year after. Do they question it?

I'm in Lanc. Co. too, and yes - here it is predominantly Christian homeschoolers. (Though there is a strong alternative co-op and network, so if you need it, it's here.) I actually don't mind because it gives me someone to "hide" behind, since districts tend to leave Christian homeschoolers alone.
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#11 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 08:49 AM
 
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I'm York County and no problems so far. I signed the moral exemption for vaxes... Haven't had anyone complain yet. We do have to turn in a portfolio at the end of the year and objectives in the beginning. I think it's fine here! What's the name of the alternative co-op in Lanc. CO?? I'm having a bit of a hard time finding families outside the Christian group!
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#12 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, thank you all so much for your replies. It's so hard to make a decision by just reading the (extremely vague and confusing) laws. Hearing about other families' experiences makes such a difference. We are Catholic but belong to a wonderful Christian HS group here on LI, so I would definitely be interested in a Christian group in PA.

Thank you all again.... I can sleep tonight without being so worried!
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#13 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 11:00 PM
 
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Oh, BeanBean's in kindergarten. . . really.

We're (hopefully going to be back in Lancaster county at the end of the month. And yes, I'd LOVE to know about any non-Christian groups around.

As to the grade levels-- parents seeking to avoid trouble generally have their kids repeat a year, rather than skip ahead; they're in second twice and then in fourth. Depending on your child, you might start them in fourth grade at age eight, or in second, but very few start in third. Look for an evaluator and ask them about testing; As long as your child is making progress, they're unlikely to raise a ruckus. In fact, I've never heard of anything happening to anyone, and I've met lots of kids who have never been in third, fifth, or eighth grades.

The ones who take the tests generally do well, but a lot of kids don't. As an aside: If you decide to enroll in a cyber charter school, your child will be required to take the tests, and they will be tested with their agemates rather than at their grade levels. So, if your child is in third grade and taking second grade math and fourth grade literature, they'll still take third grade PSSA based on age. Cyber school students are not legally homeschoolers.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#14 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 11:41 PM
 
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The alternative homeschooling co-op in in Lancaster County is called Natural Learners. They're on Yahoo, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NaturalLearners/.

We just started the fall session of co-op classes two weeks ago. We meet in the morning for classes at the Environmental Education Center in the county park (fabulous place and teachers!). Cost for those classes is between $35 and $55 and run for an hour or two. Additional classes are available in the afternoons at the Friends Meeting House nearby - art, drama, spanish, gym, etc.

In addition to the Wed. co-op classes, this is a very active group with fabulous members always planning trips, activities, extra classes, etc.

You do not have to be from Lanc. Co. either - surrounding counties are more than welcome.

Really and truly, this group is a dog-send (*snicker*), and I can't recommend it enough. There's an annual membership fee of $20 per family. Lots of unschoolers, mixed schoolers, etc. Most of them are very alternative-minded.
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#15 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 11:42 PM
 
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Oh, fall session is 12 weeks. Then a break for a month or two, then another 12 week spring session. But like I said, lots going on year-round in the group.
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#16 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 11:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chicklet View Post
Oh, thank you all so much for your replies. It's so hard to make a decision by just reading the (extremely vague and confusing) laws. Hearing about other families' experiences makes such a difference. We are Catholic but belong to a wonderful Christian HS group here on LI, so I would definitely be interested in a Christian group in PA.

Thank you all again.... I can sleep tonight without being so worried!
There will literally be a TON of Christian groups for you to choose from in Central PA area. Particularly Lancaster County. If/when you end up here, I would be happy to give you the names of some good ones.
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#17 of 19 Old 10-05-2007, 11:53 PM
 
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Forgot to address the non-vax'ing issue. That wouldn't be an issue in this area either. There are a lot of people who don't vax in Lanc. Co., and the form doesn't require it be a "religious" reason, so you can't simply claim a "strong philosophical belief similar to a religious belief".

When I filled the form out, I did have to write a sentence about my reason, though. I made up some ridiculously out-there reason that just made me giggle and giggle to think what somebody reading it would think.

I mean, it was really bizarre - whatever I said (can't remember it word for word anymore). It truly was. But they don't (and maybe even can't) question what you write - they just need you to sign the form.
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#18 of 19 Old 10-06-2007, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks SnakeWoman!!!

I really appreciate the info. Actually, it sounds like there is a lot more going on in Lancaster then here on LI (not too many HS'ers in my area, or even my county for that matter). And a limited amt of classes... PA is sounding better and better.

Happy Homeschooling!!
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#19 of 19 Old 10-06-2007, 10:30 PM
 
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Lanc. Co. is one of the best places to homeschool - IMO. Precisely because of everything available here.

DH & I were raised here, but had planned on moving away... until we started researching other areas and saw how little support was available for homeschooling. Suddenly, Lanc. Co. started looking not so bad afterall.

So for now we're sucking it up and staying.
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